It’s not often that you see a performer literally become a movie star before your eyes on the silver screen, but such an occurrence took place two summers ago.
The film was Bridesmaids, the hilarious Kristin Wiig pic that became the comedy event of 2011, to the tune of an incredible $169 million domestic at the box office. We all know by now it vaulted Wiig from SNL standout to movie star.
To many, including me, the revelation was Melissa McCarthy as Megan, Maya Rudolph’s hilarious and straight talking future sister-in-law. Her performance was the highlight of the picture, so much so that it earned McCarthy a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. That’s usually unheard of for a comedic performance.
And while her performance was filled with generous laugh out loud moments (airplane scene, wedding dress shopping scene), it’s a quieter scene between her and Wiig that gave Bridesmaids its heart.
The scene takes place after Wiig’s character Annie has hit rock bottom. She’s moved in with her mother (who likes to paint celebrities), alienated her about to married best friend in grand giant cookie smashing fashion, and given up on a promising relationship with a kind policeman. It is McCarthy’s character who manages to snap Annie out of her funk with a truly inspirational speech that is both humorous and touching. I remember watching this scene in the theater and when Megan finally tells Annie to stop blaming the world for her problems, the theater practically broke out in spontaneous applause.
This speech works because it’s well-written. More than that, it works because McCarthy delivers it so well and so convincingly. It elevates her character from simply comic relief to being the soul of the film. I would put forth that this scene is why McCarthy got that Oscar nomination. She deserved it.
And her movie career has only improved in the past two years. This spring, McCarthy headlined Identity Thief, which was a huge hit. This summer’s The Heat with Sandra Bullock is likely to be another blockbuster.
It all started here, however. McCarthy’s speech gave us the opportunity to watch a new movie star blossom in real time. It’s a brilliant performance in a perfect scene.